The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) is by far the largest Greek-American organization. Its scope is international - with chapters in the United States, Canada, Australia and Greece. AHEPA was founded July 26, 1922, in Atlanta, Georgia, by visionary Americans of Greek descent to protect Hellenes from the evils of bigotry and to help assimilate them into American society in the early 20th Century. Although a majority of the membership is composed of Americans of Hellenic descent, application for membership is open to everyone who believes in the mission of the organization.
The mission of the AHEPA Family is to promote Hellenism, Education, Philanthropy, Civic Responsibility, and Family and Individual Excellence.
AHEPA feels part of its mission is to create an awareness of the principles of Hellenism to people outside the Greek-American Community. Hellenism and its ideals, should be experienced by all and for generations to come.
AHEPA's "Tribute to Olympism" Sculpture, that stands in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, celebrates one of our ancestors' gifts to humanity - the Olympic Games. It was given on behalf of all Hellenes and Phil-hellenes worldwide as a token of what Hellenism represents to mankind in celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the modern Olympic Games. At present the AHEPA is developing a The acceptance of the AHEPA Float into the 1999 Tournament of Roses Parade allowed Hellenism to be viewed by a worldwide audience. The Hellenic Float carried the theme "Music from the Acropolis" and echoed mankind's passion for freedom and harmony.
Important issues. such as the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece and debunking attempts to detract from the accomplishments of the ancient Greeks by revisionists of history are all part of AHEPA's crusade in the preservation of Hellenism in today's society, These are concerns not just for Hellenes and Phil-Hellenes, but for all citizens. AHEPA educates its members on these matters through its symposiums, lectures, and banquets. program, in co-operation with the Athens Organizing Committee, for the promotion of the 2004 Olympics.
The AHEPA Educational Foundation continues in its pursuit to develop new and more responsive ways to meet our responsibility in creating a better learning environment for our children today ... and tomorrow. The foundation offers scholarships on a broad, national basis to a wide variety of students. Recipients are traditional and non-traditional students; high school seniors; seminarians, including those entering Holy Cross Greek School of Theology; or college and post-graduate students looking to become tomorrow's leaders.
The preservation of Hellenic Studies programs on our campuses is an important issue for the AHEPA Educational Foundation. A subcommittee of the foundation, the Hellenic Cultural Commission, actively works in the support of Hellenism and the study of the classics at our universities. In addition, programs such as Journey to Greece and Washington Internships have been sponsored by the foundation to help educate our young Greek- Americans.
AHEPA's commitment to education has been well documented throughout its history. Over $4 million is endowed at the local, district and national levels toward the use of scholarships and a half-million dollars is awarded annually. Thousands of young men and women throughout the United States and Canada have benefited as recipients of AHEPA scholarships at these various levels. The most famous recipient, perhaps, is political commentator and analyst George Stephanopolos.
The very meaning of the word philanthropy is rooted in the Hellenic ideal of "love of people." Therefore, it is a natural for AHEPA to be the leading Greek-American organization of philanthropic endeavors throughout the world.
Philanthropy has been a pillar of strength for AHEPA over its many years of existence. AHEPA's deeds can be seen in the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island; in the Halls of St. Basil's Academy; in the building of our churches; and in the financial contributions toward the research for cures of deadly diseases. Yet, this only scratches the surface of the numerous philanthropic works of the association. Briefly, consider the following few examples;
- AHEPA helped to defray the mortgages and bills on many churches, including the St. Photios National Shrine in St. Augustine, Florida, and continues to contribute over $1 million annually to Greek Orthodox Communities through our local chapters.
- AHEPA amassed $162 million during the United States' World War II war bond drive
- Construction of the 400-bed AHEPA Wing to Evangelismos Hospital in Athens and the AHEPA Hospital in Thessaloniki, Greece
- Construction of seven AHEPA Health Care Centers in rural areas of Greece
- Funding of the Dr. George Papanicolaou Cancer Research Institute in Miami
- Supporters of the "Plant Your Roots in Greece" Program, the re-forestation of areas ravaged by fire
- Sponsoring of teams from Greece attending the International Special Olympics
- Sponsoring nurse exchange programs between hospitals in the United States and Greece
- Worldwide relief for victims of natural disasters
In addition, countless philanthropic projects are undertaken every year by AHEPA's chapters and districts, Projects such as the Greek Autism Project and the Greek Children's Cancer Fund at Sloan-Kettering Hospital both originated at the local levels. They have now become national projects.
AHEPA constantly seeks new philanthropic projects where it can contribute its resources to the needs of our communities here and abroad, The organization builds upon prior successes and uses them as a catapult for future achievements.
- Civic Responsibility
As Greek-Americans and Phil-Hellenes, it is our civic responsibility to search for a just and peaceful resolution to the crisis in Cyprus, peace in the Aegean and the protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by creating an awareness of these issues to the President of the United States, our representatives in Congress, and diplomatic leaders worldwide. AHEPA, through its grassroots network, is able to communicate this message in a resounding manner. In fact. the ability to "mobilize" our network, of over 450 chapters across the United States, Canada, and Greece truly makes us a unique organization. AHEPA educates its members about these issues through seminars and conferences. The Biennial AHEPA Congressional Banquet honors members of Congress and those who helped the Greek-American Community in these causes. Also, AHEPA keeps a watchful eye on our members of Congress with our annual Congressional Report Card. It grades our Congressmen on how they vote on important Greek-American issues. Finally, voter registration campaigns throughout the country are spearheaded by AHEPA.
In addition, it is our civic responsibility to provide affordable housing to our senior citizens. The AHEPA National Housing Corporation (ANHC) is dedicated to this most worthy cause. Over the years, ANHC has been awarded over $330 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As of 1997, the total number of senior housing complexes stands at 44, with 2,497 units complete, and more in development. The facilities are managed under the direction of the AHEPA Management Company, Inc.
What makes AHEPA unique from other organizations is the creation of the AHEPA Family. Over its history, three auxiliaries were created to form the AHEPA Family,
The Daughters of Penelope was established November 16, 1929 as the Women's Auxiliary of AHEPA. It is the first Greek-American women's organization in the United States. One of its crowning achievements is Penelope House, a shelter for battered women in Mobile, Alabama. It is the first shelter for battered women and their children in that state.
The Sons of Pericles was established February 3, 1926, and was officially recognized as the Junior Order of AHEPA in 1928. Finally, the Maids of Athena was founded July 5, 1930 as the Junior Women's Auxiliary of AHEPA. The two youth groups have combined to contribute to such worthy causes as: Muscular Dystrophy, Deborah Heart and Lung Foundation, the Special Olympics, St. Basil's Academy and Cooley's Anemia.
AHEPA prides itself on this concept of a family unit working together toward a common goal. Combined the four organizations have contributed well over a billion dollars to national projects throughout their history.
The AHEPA Athletic Program provides an opportunity for the member to achieve individual and team excellence. AHEPANs are able to participate in Golf, Softball, Bowling and Basketball tournaments at both regional and national level:.
We admire those who love the thrill of competition and excel under those circumstances, much like our
ancestors of Ancient Greece who fostered the spirit of the Olympic Games. The AHEPA Hellenic Hall of Fame and the
National Sports Awards Luncheon, held annually at the National Convention, are ways in which we honor those individuals.
The AHEPA Hellenic Hall of Fame is the only one of its kind in the United States. The AHEPA Athletic Awards Program
recognizes superior athletes at the professional, collegiate and high school levels.
Our Hellenic history is one of which we should all be proud. The preservation and promotion of that history and the principles of Hellenism - basically man's commitment to humanity-is one area where AHEPA has and always will be deeply committed.
As individuals we are all limited in the things that we can do in meeting our responsibility to our fellow man. However, it is when we come together as a group, organized and focused in our objectives, that we begin to realize the fulfillment of our mission. AHEPA and the AHEPA Family is that vehicle to lead us to the fulfillment of our dreams.
Order of AHEPA, National Headquarters
1909 Q Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20009
Phone: (202) 232-6300 - Fax (202) 232-2140 - www.ahepa.org